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Alumni in the News: Suresh Mudannayake

Thu, Sep 9th, 2021
Worth School

Former Worth student Suresh Mudannayake is a celebrated novelist from Sri Lanka who is currently back in the UK to promote his latest book. After turning to writing at the age of 42, he has enjoyed remarkable success. Read on to find out more …

In Sri Lanka Suresh Mudannayake is better known as Ashok Ferrey, the author of five books, all of them nominated either for Sri Lanka’s Gratiaen Prize or its State Literary Award.

After leaving Worth in 1975, Suresh studied Pure Mathematics at Christ Church Oxford and then worked in Brixton converting Victorian houses during the Thatcher era before returning to Colombo. Today he continues to design and build houses, including the Cricket Club Café in Colombo which has just been nominated for a Geoffrey Bawa Award, and is also a personal trainer. He spent his childhood in Somalia, which he describes as “staggeringly beautiful,” but has not returned for fear that the country has changed too much. He came to writing at 42, after his father’s illness with cancer.

Suresh's latest novel, The Unmarriageable Man, is the story of Sri Lankan, Sanjay de Silva, south London’s first Asian builder, in London in the 1980s coping with grief after the death of his idiosyncratic father. It is an exploration of the nature and meaning of love, loss, grief, and of time and memory, and is semi-autobiographical. Sharp-eyed Worth-watchers will spot the names Philip and Domenica Gaisford appearing early on in the novel. So, is there any likelihood that at some point in the future Worth itself will make an appearance? “Who knows?” Ferrey says with an enigmatic smile. “'Be very careful what you wish for...”

Suresh, who was known as Muda at Worth, has a Worthian son Rehan (Butler’08) who has recently starred in a Canadian film Funny Boy which was nominated for Best International Film at the Oscars.

There is An Audience with Ashok Ferrey at 2pm on Friday 17 September 2021 at The Linnean Society, Piccadilly, London W1J OBF which you can attend either in person or online, and you can purchase a ticket here.

For more on Worth’s alumni association click here.

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